A freak snowstorm has covered vast swathes of nearly 14 US states under a blanket of white. The winter storm has cause snowfall even in traditionally warm states like Texas and Louisiana! The extreme cold caused turbines to freeze, leading to massive power outages. An estimated 2 million people in Texas alone have been left in the dark due to sudden power failures.
As cold weather conditions intensified over the weekend, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a warning on February 13, saying, “Every part of the state will face freezing conditions over the coming days, and I urge all Texans to remain vigilant against the extremely harsh weather that is coming.” Abbott also advised, “Stay off the roads, take conscious steps to conserve energy, and avoid dangerous practices like bringing generators indoors or heating homes with ovens or stovetops. Our emergency response to this winter weather requires a collective approach between state agencies, local officials, and Texans throughout our communities to ensure the safety and security of the Lone Star State.”
On Sunday, the White House issued a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas in response to the severe winter weather. Governor Abbott sought and received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Energy that allows Texas power generators to increase production. However, some of those generators were unable to increase production because their operations were frozen by weather conditions.
“Due to the severe weather and freezing temperatures across our state, many power companies have been unable to generate power, whether it’s from coal, natural gas, or wind power,” said Governor Abbott. “ERCOT and the PUC are working non-stop to restore power supply. The state has also deployed resources to assist Texans without power and to help essential workers continue to carry out their jobs. In the meantime, I encourage all Texans to continue to stay off the roads, and conserve energy as state agencies work with private providers to restore power as quickly as possible,” said Abbott.
As per a press release issued today, the following resources have been deployed:
- Texas Department of Public Safety: 3,300 Troopers and 3,300 patrol vehicles responding statewide to events in areas adversely affected by winter weather
- Texas Military Department: 6 Winter Weather Packages consisting of 90 personnel, 28 High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicles, 1 Field Light Ambulance, and 4 Wreckers
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: 585 personnel, 531 4×4 vehicles, 50 UAS, 1 aircraft and 9 K9 teams
- Texas A&M Forest Service: 83 personnel, 6 Motor Graders, and 58 4×4’s
- Texas Department of Transportation: 2,314 personnel, 695 snowplows, 188 loaders, 55 Motor Graders and 757 4×4 vehicles
- Texas Emergency Medical Task Force: 1 AMBUS and 1 Ambulance Strike Team and 4 Severe Weather Packages consisting of 1 Task Force Leader, 1 MIST,1 AMBUS and 1 Ambulance Strike Team each on stand-by
Meanwhile, next door in Louisiana, a state that has never seen a white Christmas, residents will see their first white Mardi Gras! Governor John Bell Edwards has also instituted a host of emergency measures, and advised people to conserve power.
State offices remained closed on Monday, emergency shelters were set up to help the homeless, and rolling blackouts were instituted to deal with the shortage of power.
Power companies also appealed to customers to voluntarily reduce their consumption:
The Louisiana Department of Health also tweeted important advisories:
LA State Police advised people against driving saying, “A mixture of snow, sleet, and freezing rain has been falling across Louisiana, making roadways dangerous for travel. Troopers are working crashes and assisting motorists, who have become disabled. We are asking the public to avoid traveling.” Many roads were shut down, and police assisted stranded motorists throughout the day.
Other states in the path of the winter storm include New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Kentucky. The deaths of 11 people have reportedly been linked to the winter storm with some having died of carbon monoxide poisoning from being stuck in cars or running generators indoors without proper ventilation.
*Feature image courtesy LA State Police twitter account.